Hormone replacement therapy personalised medications
Hormone replacement therapy is a long-term medication plan to maintain and balance hormone levels.
HRT is commonly prescribed for women who are experiencing menopause, when naturally produced oestrogen (estrogen) levels drop. This leads to the symptoms of menopause.
Men also take HRT in order to restore natural levels of male hormones in the body. This can occur after treatment for cancer, or due to a medical condition.
Hormone therapy should be done in consultation with your doctor as there can be risks involved.
Androgen deficiency is when your body does not produce sufficient male hormones, commonly testosterone. This is due to medical or neurological conditions, or after some chemotherapy treatments. It is not due to a “male menopause”. Androgen deficiency symptoms include:
- Hot flushes and sweats
- Reduced sexual desire
- Breast development
- Reduced muscle mass and strength
- Increased body fat, particularly abdominal fat
- Sexual dysfunction
- Body hair loss
Diagnosed androgen deficiencies are treated with testosterone replacement therapy, using a testosterone compound as a skin gel, a testosterone cream or injections. There are known side effects, so any hormone therapy must be done in consultation with a medical doctor.
Menopause and hormone changes
Menopause is the hormonal process that ends when a woman stops having monthly periods and no longer produces eggs. This is due to the reduction in circulating oestrogen (estrogen) in the body. There is a range of ages when this hormonal decline starts, from the 40s to the 50s.
This period of fluctuating hormones is known as perimenopause. “Menopause” symptoms are most pronounced during this time, which progresses over a period of years. These symptoms include:
- Hot flushes or night sweats
- Vaginal changes including dryness
- Mood swings
- Aches, pains and aching
- Urinary problems
- Weight gain, especially around the middle
- Difficulty sleeping, concentrating or remembering
- Feeling anxious or irritable
- Lowered mood and interest in sex.
Bioidentical or body-identical HRT
Pharmaceutical HRT formulations are prescribed by doctors to restore your hormone balance.
These are sometimes known as ‘body-identical’ hormone therapy and many use the identical hormone chemical structure that is in your body. Others are “synthetic” hormones.
Some women opt for what are known as compounded bioidentical hormones, which are made using specific hormone formulations.
Compounding hormone products gives an option when conventional therapy does not work effectively for some people. Compounded products can be tailored to suit each individual and their hormone levels, mimicking the prior natural levels.
In line with a prescription from your doctor, we can prepare hormones in a variety of strengths and formulations.
Some women are prescribed hormones when they are doing IVF.
Progesterone in IVF
A progesterone supplement can supplement the levels of your naturally occurring hormone. It acts on the uterine lining to help it thicken, and maintain pregnancy.
These supplements have had mixed results so make sure you discuss the treatment with your doctor. These include progesterone pessaries for IVF, and progesterone troches.
What is a pessary?
A pessary is similar to a tablet that is inserted into the vagina. This is the preferred method for progesterone delivery because it is absorbed more effectively.
Many women have a lot of questions about the use of progesterone and other hormone treatments. There is a lot of information available but not all of it is reliable and medically appropriate.
When to apply progesterone cream? Where to apply progesterone cream? How long does it take for oral progesterone to work? Discuss progesterone creams and other methods with your health professional.
DHEA capsules for IVF
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) capsules have been trialled in IVF for some women. This is still being researched to determine efficacy.
Methods for hormone replacement therapy
HRT or MRT comes in a range of formulations. These include tablets, patches, gels or vaginal treatments.
An HRT troche is a hard tablet that dissolves slowly in the mouth. You put it under your tongue and it will dissolve within about 15 minutes.
HRT creams include oestrogen (estrogen) and testosterone creams. Oestrogen creams are applied to the vagina, while testosterone creams should be applied to the torso or upper legs.